17 Kentucky Proud Facts

Today we celebrate 225 years of Kentucky and its rich history. From burgers to bourbon, we've got something for everyone.

  1. Cheeseburgers were first served in 1934 at Kaelin's restaurant in Louisville.

  2. Mammoth Cave is the world's longest cave and was first promoted in 1816, making it the second oldest tourist attraction in the United States. Niagara Falls, New York is first.

  3. Kentucky is the state where both Abraham Lincoln, President of the Union, and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, were born. They were born less than one hundred miles and one year apart.

  4. Rainbows are incredible, but Kentucky is home to an even rarer and more breathtaking sight. In Cumberland Falls on the Cumberland River near Corbin, you might spy a moonbow—a rainbow made from light reflected off of the moon. On clear nights when the moon is full or nearly full, you can see a moonbow in the falls' spray.

  5. Thunder over Louisville was designed as a kick start to the Kentucky Derby Festival and is now the largest annual fireworks display in the world.

  6. Teacher Mary S. Wilson held the first observance of Mother's Day in Henderson in 1887. It was made a national holiday in 1916.

  7. The great Man o' War won all of his horse races except one which he lost to a horse named Upset.

  8. There is a legend that the inspiration for Stephen Foster's hymn like song "My Old Kentucky Home" was written in 1852 after an unverified trip to visit relatives in Kentucky.

  9. The public saw an electric light for the first time in Louisville. Thomas Edison introduced his incandescent light bulb to crowds at the Southern Exposition in 1883.

  10. The radio was invented by a Kentuckian named Nathan B. Stubblefield of Murray in 1892. It was three years before Marconi made his claim to the invention.

  11. Middlesboro is the only city in the United States built within a meteor crater.

  12. More than $6 billion worth of gold is held in the underground vaults of Fort Knox. This is the largest amount of gold stored anywhere in the world.

  13. Enjoy the Kentucky Derby? Tip your cap to Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Clark watched England’s famed Epsom Derby during an 1872 visit to Europe and wanted to create something equally impressive back home in Kentucky to showcase the local horse breeding industry. Upon his return, he got to work. Clark first founded Churchill Downs on land he leased from his uncles, John and Henry Churchill, and when the track was finally ready to open on May 17, 1875, the featured event on the first day of racing was known as the Kentucky Derby.

  14. Held every year since 1875, The Kentucky Derby is a short distance of 1¼ miles (about 2 km). The garland of roses presented to the winner is made up of more than 400 roses and is the source of the Derby’s moniker the “Run for the Roses®.”

  15. In case you weren’t convinced that bourbon is big business in the Bluegrass State: The number of bourbon barrels currently aging in Kentucky distilleries outnumbers the state’s population by more than a million (5.6 million vs. 4.4 million, respectively) and a typical Derby crowd guzzles 120,000 mint juleps and drains 7,000 liters of bourbon.

  16. Bowling Green, located in western Kentucky, is home to the world’s only Corvette assembly plant. The one-million-square-foot compound was built in 1981, after GM decided to move the facility from St. Louis.

  17. Why is Kentucky such a hotbed for horse racing? Locals would have you believe it’s the calcium-rich grass, which gathers minerals from the limestone bed that runs beneath the state’s central region. But according to several sources, Kentucky’s equine prowess is due to strict gambling laws in the late 19th century that outlawed betting in east coast states, where horse racing was prominent. Because Kentucky didn’t outlaw horse betting, breeders moved their operations there and took the state’s racing industry from a trot to a gallop.

Book your visit to our beautiful Bluegrass state at visithorsecountry.com.